The magazine of Brooklyn Law School Fall 2020
Special Edition Timeline Inside
Preparing future lawyers while serving the community
Also Inside: Alumni Lead the Way in COVID-19 Response
Fall 2020
Associate Dean of Experiential Education Stacy Caplow oversees the clinical education program as it continues to advance the values that have made it a leader in the field
Stacy Caplow in a court room
Today, Brooklyn Law School’s clinical education program is more expansive than ever, while also growing to respond to current events, offering students an unparalleled experience
zoom meeting with multiple people
Legal luminaries celebrate the Class of 2020, the Law School welcomes the incoming class at Convocation, and more
Community leaders speak on prison reform at the Center for Criminal Justice panel, and more
The Law School community responds to a historic pandemic, alumni at the front, and more
Hon. Jennifer Philpott Wilson ’01 talks about her confirmation to the federal bench
Three new faculty members join the Law School, faculty appointments recognize scholarly excellence, and more
Valerie Fitch ’88 leads the Alumni Association, alumni create new scholarships to drive diversity, and more
Professor Wilfred Codrington III offers a blueprint for election reform
Brooklyn Law Notes
Vol. 25, No. 2
Clorinda Valenti
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Rosemarie Yu
Contributing Writer
Jen Swetzoff
Amy Schraub
Knox Design Strategy
David Bryant
Caitlin Monck ’02
Ed Betz
Edward Janger
Michael Meyer
Seth Olenick
Mike Olivella
Heather Shertzer
Conor Sullivan
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Dean’s Message
Michael Cahill speaking at Ruth Bader Ginsburg's memorial in Brooklyn


N THESE DAYS so full of challenges, anxiety, and doubt, and at the risk of tempting fate, it is my pleasure to report that the fall semester is proceeding smoothly, albeit very differently, so far. It is also my distinct pleasure to be able to share some good news amid the gloom.

As this issue’s feature story documents, after 50 years, our clinical program is showing its maturity but not its age—building on a proud tradition, our clinics are stronger than ever. The same is true of our faculty, and I’m thrilled whenever I can give our professors the recognition they deserve, as I have been able to do multiple times recently. One special joy of serving as dean is the opportunity to confer a named chair on a tenured faculty member. Chairs are awarded to distinguished professors in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the scholarly community, the school, and the profession. In the last month, I have had the triple pleasure of recognizing three faculty colleagues in this way (read more here).

In mid-September, I announced that Professor William Araiza would be the new occupant of the Stanley A. August chair. Araiza has served the Law School as its vice dean, and he has been a prolific and thoughtful scholar, the author of multiple casebooks as well as numerous articles and monographs. His most recent book, Animus, which traces a theory of unconstitutional bias over two centuries of case law, has been widely cited by scholars and in the media. Araiza is also a strong supporter of legal education, both as an admired classroom teacher and by holding leadership positions in national law school organizations.

News typography
Legal Luminaries Celebrate the Class of 2020
IN LIEU OF a traditional commencement ceremony, leaders in the legal community, as well as many members of the faculty, celebrated the achievements of the Law School’s graduating class in May via a video. They honored the 328 graduates receiving J.D. degrees and 19 receiving LL.M. degrees, and offered encouraging words for the start of their legal careers at a challenging time in the nation’s history.
Michael T. Cahill headshot
Michael T. Cahill
President and Joseph Crea Dean
This is, event or no, a time to celebrate what you have achieved and what lies before you. You have persevered through significant challenges and circumstances, and you deserve congratulations as you arrive at this day and pass this threshold.
Preet Bharara headshot
Preet Bharara
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
You are about to join what I still think is a noble profession, in which you can do so much good for so many people. I look forward to seeing great things from all of you.
Letitia James headshot
Letitia James
New York State Attorney General
Now, as never before, New York and the nation need your expertise and commitment to the rule of law. I know you have what it takes.
Eric Adams headshot
Eric Adams
Brooklyn Borough President
In the words of Marcus Aurelius, what impedes us empowers us. Graduates, you are empowered, and you will use what you’ve learned to empower others.
Eric Gonzalez headshot
Eric Gonzalez
Brooklyn District Attorney
This won’t be the last curveball you’ll face in your legal career, but I know Brooklyn Law very well. Your education has prepared you to meet unexpected challenges, to overcome obstacles, and, most important, to fight for justice.
Graduation mini ceremony 2020

Grad Celebrates Class with Mini Ceremony

ALEXANDRA LENCZEWSKI ’20 honored her classmates with a miniature graduation ceremony in her backyard that quickly went viral, leading to coverage by ABC News, NBC News, Good Morning America, Yahoo News, and international outlets.

Law School Welcomes New Students at Annual Convocation Ceremony
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL welcomed 425 new students on August 24 at the annual Convocation Ceremony, held online this year. Vice Dean Christina Mulligan served as master of ceremonies for the event, which featured remarks from Professor Frank Pasquale; Erika Lorshbough ’12, deputy policy director at the New York Civil Liberties Union; and Dean Cahill.
Fact graphic about Brooklyn Law
Fact graphic about Brooklyn Law
"Black Lives Matter" painted with yellow bold text on previously Joralemon Street

Joralemon Street Co-Named Black Lives Matter Boulevard

On June 29, Brooklyn Borough Hall unveiled a new Black Lives Matter mural along the newly co-named Black Lives Matter Boulevard. The mural runs along Joralemon Street between Court Street and Boerum Place, where the Law School’s main building is located.

The mural and street co-naming commemorate the Black Lives Matter movement, paying tribute to the thousands who have marched in Brooklyn and across the nation to protest police violence. Cadman Plaza, across the street from the Law School, has been a site of frequent protests and gatherings since May.

Brooklyn Law School Students Take Top Prizes in National Writing Competition

Elizabeth Potter ’20 and Emily Spanyer Sanford ’20 were awarded the top two prizes in the 2019–20 Louis Jackson Memorial National Student Writing Competition, which recognizes the best writing in the field of labor and employment law among current students. Potter placed first for her manuscript “Revoking Religious Employers’ License to Discriminate: How to Limit the Ministerial Exception to What the First Amendment Requires After Hosanna–Tabor,” winning a $3,000 scholarship. Sanford won one of two second-place prizes for her manuscript “Equality in Parental Leave: How Women Can Achieve Workplace Parity Through Equal Parental Leave Policies,” and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

“This is one of the few times that this award has been won by two students from the same school, and we should be very proud of their work,” said Professor Minna Kotkin, who specializes in employment discrimination law and is director of the Employment Law Clinic.

“I appreciate Professor Kotkin’s help and guidance and [thank her] for encouraging us to submit,” said Potter. “It was also a wonderful opportunity to take her class and learn employment law from someone who has been a real voice and advocate for workers.”

The competition is underwritten by Jackson Lewis in honor of founding partner Louis Jackson and administered by the Institute for Law and the Workplace at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Spotlight on Intellectual Life
Each semester, the Law School offers a robust calendar of intellectually rich and dynamic programs sponsored by its centers and institutes, fellowship programs, and journals. Led by our nationally recognized faculty, the programs feature leading scholars, jurists, and practitioners exploring critical topics in diverse areas of the law and policy.
Community Leaders Discuss Mass Incarceration
Community Leaders Discuss Mass Incarceration
Roger Headley of VOCAL-NY shares his experience when incarcerated
Roger Headley of VOCAL-NY shares his experience
AT “PRISON, INVISIBILITY, AND RESISTANCE,” a panel discussion held in February and organized by the Center for Criminal Justice, community leaders and academics joined together to discuss the scope of mass incarceration in the context of the experiences of those who have been incarcerated. The discussion focused on the intersections of race, gender, citizenship, and disability as identities in prisons and jails; transfers and isolation from families; the role of lawyers in fighting mass incarceration; and current campaigns against solitary confinement.

Roger Headley, a community leader at VOCAL-NY, and Robert “Saleem” Holbrook, executive director of the Abolitionist Law Center, both previously incarcerated individuals, discussed their experiences in community activism. They were joined on the panel by Emma Kaufman, assistant professor of law at NYU School of Law, and Jamelia Morgan, associate professor of law at University of Connecticut School of Law and a visiting professor at the Law School this fall. Professors Jocelyn Simonson, codirector of the Center for Criminal Justice, and Prianka Nair, codirector of the Disability and Civil Rights Clinic, moderated the event.

Block Center Lecture Weighs Wealth and Inequality
KATHARINA PISTOR, the Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law and director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation at Columbia Law School, delivered the annual Brooklyn Lecture on International Business Law in March. Pistor’s lecture, sponsored by the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law and the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, covered topics discussed in her recent book, The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2019).

Pistor identified the creation of wealth through specifically legal instruments as one of the biggest reasons for widening inequality. She discussed how the law selectively “codes” certain assets, endowing them with the capacity to protect and produce private wealth, and how lawyers are the keepers of that code.

After the lecture, Professors Julian Arato and Robin Effron, codirectors of the Block Center, with Professors Steven Dean and Frank Pasquale, joined Pistor in a panel discussion on the themes of her book.

Professor Steven Dean responds to Pistor’s presentation at lecture
Professor Steven Dean responds to Pistor’s presentation
Special Report: COVID-19
Law School Community Rallies to Respond to Pandemic
Professor Maryellen Fullerton teaches an in-person Civil Procedure class
Professor Maryellen Fullerton teaches an in-person Civil Procedure class

Like many OTHER schools and businesses around the country, Brooklyn Law School quickly responded to myriad challenges in March, when COVID-19 forced the temporary closure of many institutions.

Amid sweeping restrictions instituted by New York State and New York City, the Law School quickly shifted to online learning for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, and on-campus events went virtual.

The July administration of the New York State Bar Examination moved online as well, and was postponed until October.

After comprehensive planning by the faculty and administration for the fall semester, the Law School offered 1L students the opportunity to take one class per week on campus, with all other courses offered online.

Ever resilient, the Brooklyn Law School community has adapted to the virtual world, with a full slate of events and programs online, including alumni panels, academic symposia and book talks, student-centered programming, and wellness and social gatherings for the Law School community.

Law School Launches Video Series Examining Legal Impact of Recent Crises

this summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic and the mass protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd roiled the city and the nation, the Law School launched Law in Time of Crisis, an online interview series that addressed the legal issues raised by the historic events and how the law can be instrumental in navigating the challenges ahead.

In one-on-one conversations, Dean Cahill sat down with members of the faculty to talk about how their individual areas of expertise have been affected by current events.

“[We discuss] how times of crisis give rise to legal issues, sometimes expose flaws or pressure points in the laws that might exist, and possibly create opportunities for legal avenues to remedy the problems that we face,” said Cahill.

Episodes looked at topics including public health, free speech and protest, business, sports, attorney mental health, and the crisis at the border. A special episode featured Deborah Riegel ’93, partner at Rosenberg and Estis and president-elect of the Alumni Association, who discussed the impact of the pandemic on the New York City real estate market.

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The Student Support Fund will help our students meet the unexpected new challenges, both personal and educational, that many have experienced from the sudden, severe, and ongoing changes around us by providing:

  • Assistance for partial or total loss of income
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  • Physical or mental health support for themselves or their loved ones
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Remote Alumni Advisors Build Connections with Students
More than 300 alumnivolunteered last spring to join the Law School’s new Remote Alumni Advisors initiative, spearheaded by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and the Career Development Center. The program helps students and recent graduates navigate the disruption of in-person meetings, training programs, and networking events by providing them access to a broad array of graduates they can connect with in a virtual environment.

Through the program, alumni volunteer to serve as remote mentors, coaches, or sounding boards for students and recent graduates. Students are encouraged to reach out to alumni mentors to ask career questions and set up informational interviews.

“I want to thank our alumni for stepping up to help our students and recent graduates,” said Dean Cahill. “We’re very pleased that even now, when direct personal interaction is difficult, and yet connection perhaps more important than ever, we can still have mentoring take place through whatever mechanisms are available. I’m really grateful for that support.”

Volunteer to be a remote mentor:
Women’s Leadership Network Takes On the New World of Remote Work
As offices around the COUNTRY closed last spring, many attorneys were tasked with learning how to work remotely for the first time. To help explore the challenges and opportunities created by remote work, the Women’s Leadership Network hosted “Working Remotely #AloneTogether,” a virtual conversation that convened a panel of alumni leaders to discuss strategies on how to quickly adapt to the changing needs of their employers, colleagues, and clients.

Debbie Epstein Henry ’94, founder of DEH Consulting, Speaking, Writing and executive consultant at Axiom, moderated the event. Panelists were Andrew Fleming ’16, assistant vice president of legal and compliance at the Blackstone Group; Olivera Medenica ’00, partner at Dunnington Bartholow & Miller; and Colleen Piccone ’90, associate chief counsel at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The panelists encouraged the attendees to demonstrate leadership in the workplace despite the sudden lack of resources and to remain flexible in responding to the needs of their clients and employers.

“Lead from where you are with what you have,” said Piccone. “Right now, we don’t have office space, but you can take that up as a new leadership challenge and do what you can on any given day.”

Mentoring Circles Advance Careers
SEVERAL of the Women’s Leadership Network’s Mentoring Circles met over the summer to offer career expertise and guidance to alumni at all professional levels. Each program, led by alumni facilitators, focused on one of three tracks.

Corporate and Compliance Mentoring Circle, led by Anna Ashurov ’12, partner, commercial strategy, North America, Anheuser-Busch InBev; and Diana Lamorie ’10, vice president of legal operations & senior compliance manager, Two Sigma Investments.

Government and Regulatory Affairs Mentoring Circle, led by Colleen Piccone ’90, associate chief counsel, U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Nicole Schermerhorn ’12, bank supervision, LISCC, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Alternative Careers Mentoring Circle, led by Garynn Noel ’15, vice president, fixed income division, Morgan Stanley; and Carol Nulty Doody ’04, attorney development manager, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Alumni Lead the Way in COVID-19 Response
As an unprecedented global pandemic hit the United States last spring, Brooklyn Law School alumni were among those leading the response. In the public and private sectors and across practice areas, they rose to the urgent challenges and helped chart a course forward.
Camille Joseph Varlack headshot
Camille Joseph Varlack ’03
Founding partner and COO, Bradford Edwards & Varlack

In late March, Varlack, who specializes in risk and crisis management, packed a bag and relocated from Brooklyn to Albany at the request of the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo to join the task force developing New York State’s initial response to the COVID-19 crisis.

We were a very small, tight-knit group, and we worked every single day. For me, it was an incredible opportunity to serve with the people in New York State government. Seeing what we were able to accomplish, seeing how sister agencies rolled up their sleeves and volunteered to help, was unbelievable.

We had to be willing to make tough decisions at times, but you can do that while still motivating people. I loved the fact that in every press conference, the governor would say, “I didn’t do it. We did it. We New Yorkers can figure it out, and we can get it done.”

Camille Joseph Varlack ’03
Founding partner and COO, Bradford Edwards & Varlack

In late March, Varlack, who specializes in risk and crisis management, packed a bag and relocated from Brooklyn to Albany at the request of the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo to join the task force developing New York State’s initial response to the COVID-19 crisis.

We were a very small, tight-knit group, and we worked every single day. For me, it was an incredible opportunity to serve with the people in New York State government. Seeing what we were able to accomplish, seeing how sister agencies rolled up their sleeves and volunteered to help, was unbelievable.

We had to be willing to make tough decisions at times, but you can do that while still motivating people. I loved the fact that in every press conference, the governor would say, “I didn’t do it. We did it. We New Yorkers can figure it out, and we can get it done.”

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Philpott Wilson ’01
A Job Worth Doing Well
Jennifer Philpott Wilson in front of the united states court house federal building
Jennifer Philpott Wilson in front of the united states court house federal building
in June 2019, Jennifer Philpott Wilson ’01 was at the most intense job interview of her life. For the previous six months, she had studied the law harder than at any time since her days in law school, and taken time off from her law practice to travel and meet with selection committees, senators, and the president’s executive team. All of that preparation had led to this moment in the U.S. Capitol, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, with her friends and family in the audience, to be considered for a judicial seat on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Wilson had watched numerous confirmation hearings available on the Senate Judiciary Committee website, using the questions asked to inform her study. She pored over the constitutional law casebooks that she and her husband, David Wilson ’01, had kept, and even reached out to Professor Maryellen Fullerton, her old Federal Courts professor, who sent her the current edition of a federal courts treatise.

by Associate Dean Stacy Caplow
Fifty years is a milestone by any account. So, reaching five decades of innovative and notable clinical education at Brooklyn Law School, delivered by dedicated and creative clinical faculty,* deserves celebration. The lives of thousands of hardworking law students have been transformed by their clinical education experience, and the clients those students assisted will always remember them. For anyone curious about this journey, as a clinician who has taught at the Law School for most of those 50 years—and steered the program for almost 40 of them—let me be your guide through our history.
A Personal History
In 1976, the Law School hired me, a 28-year-old criminal defense attorney, to teach its first in-house program, a criminal defense clinic in Brooklyn Criminal Court. The Law School had only recently moved away from a New York State–oriented curriculum with no electives, as well as into a new building at 250 Joralemon Street. Students had agitated for an in-house clinic, arguing not only that they wanted practical experience before graduation, but also, in the middle of the activist 1970s, that they wanted programs that addressed social issues. Once they had additional support from a few faculty members, then- Dean Raymond Lisle, a true traditionalist, gave in to their demand. With this major step, Brooklyn Law School became an early adopter of clinical education.

Even with that faculty backing, I always suspected that some of my colleagues did not really understand the program—one of them praised clinics for teaching students what line to stand on to file papers in court. In reality, our students were in the front of the courtroom every day: speaking on the record, representing clients, negotiating dispositions, and even conducting hearings and trials.

by Jen Swetzoff
Long a national leader in clinical education, Brooklyn Law School continues its tradition of meeting emerging challenges in the law and offering students unparalleled opportunities to work with real clients on real cases.
As clinical education at Brooklyn Law School marked its 50th anniversary this year, the program faced unprecedented challenges, but proved, once again, that its work—in the classroom and in the community—is integral to the Law School’s mission and the students, communities, and clients the program serves. As the Law School moved to a virtual environment, clinical students and faculty continued to help clients in dire need of legal services across a range of practice areas—including employment law, criminal defense, LGBTQ+ advocacy, immigration, technology and intellectual property, real estate, and more. Meanwhile, faculty members launched new clinics and expanded projects to assist more people harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support students whose internships and job prospects might have been adversely affected. Students found a sense of community and support in their clinics, and, despite extreme slowdowns in the legal system, they moved cases forward and gained skills and experience that uniquely prepared them for practice in the new remote environment. The response has been emblematic of the clinical program over a half century of innovation and commitment to education and advancing justice.

“Brooklyn Law School is well known throughout the legal community for training lawyers who are ready to practice on ‘day one’ of their legal careers,” said Dean Michael T. Cahill. “That reputation is a testament to the vision and focus of our clinical faculty and the drive and sense of purpose of our students. I have no doubt that with our continued investment as a community, for the next 50 years, that reputation will only grow.”

Clinics 50 1970-2020 logo
For five decades, Brooklyn Law School has been a national leader in clinical legal education. Today, its faculty continue to advance this legacy of empowerment through practice, offering students the opportunity to meet legal challenges while developing the knowledge and skills that will serve them throughout their careers.
Law School Welcomes New Faculty Members
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL welcomed three new full-time faculty members this fall: Professors Frank Pasquale, Wilfred Codrington III, and Vijay Raghavan.

“These new faculty members bring a wealth of expertise, experience, and new ideas to the Law School, in such diverse areas as consumer finance, law and technology, and election law,” said Dean Cahill. “As our curriculum evolves to keep pace with the latest developments in the law, their contributions will be invaluable. We also look forward to their collaboration with our existing stellar group of scholars.”

Frank Pasquale headshot
Frank Pasquale joined the faculty from the University of Maryland, where he was the Piper & Marbury Professor of Law. A noted expert on the law of artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms, and machine learning, Pasquale focuses on how information is used across a number of areas, including health law, commerce, and technology.

He is the author of New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI (Harvard University Press, 2020) and The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press, 2015).

Pasquale has advised business and government leaders in the healthcare, internet, and finance industries, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees, the Senate Banking Committee, the Federal Trade Commission, and directorates-general of the European Commission. He presently chairs the Subcommittee on Privacy, Confidentiality, and Security of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, where he is serving a four-year term.

Pasquale’s move was noted by Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports as one of the top 10 lateral moves of the year—the fourth year in a row that Brooklyn Law School has been on the list.

Faculty Chairs Recognize Scholarly Excellence

Susan N. Herman Named Inaugural Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law

Susan N. Herman headshot

Brooklyn Law School has named Susan N. Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the inaugural Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law. The chair was created to honor the life and legacy of the U.S. Supreme Court justice, who died Sept. 18.

“I am thrilled to be named the first occupant of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chair at Brooklyn Law School,” said Herman. “RBG has been an inspiration and role model to me, another girl born in Brooklyn who followed her in the ACLU and in teaching law. She taught the world that no path should be closed to anyone on the basis of sex and so many other lessons I hope to carry on.”

Herman teaches courses in constitutional law and criminal procedure and is affiliated with the Center for Law, Language & Cognition and the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship program. A highly regarded authority and prolific author on constitutional law and criminal procedure, she is routinely sought after by the media to discuss issues on these topics. She has also participated in Supreme Court litigation, writing and collaborating on amicus curiae briefs for the ACLU on a range of constitutional criminal procedure issues. In June 2017 and 2019, Crain’s New York Business named her to its list of “50 Most Powerful Women in New York,” and in October 2019, Trinity College Dublin’s Law Society honored her with its Praeses Elit Award.

William Araiza Named Stanley A. August Professor of Law

William Araiza headshot
WIlliam araiza has been named the Stanley A. August Professor of Law. He is an expert in administrative and constitutional law, with a focus on First Amendment law and the legal concept of equal protection.

In his book Animus: A Short Introduction to Bias in the Law (NYU Press, 2017), Araiza turned to the concept of animus to explain why some instances of discrimination are unconstitutional. His recent paper, “Resurrecting Animus/Renewing Intent,” Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 645 (2020), examines the Supreme Court’s rejection of the doctrine in its recent decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“I am honored to be named the Stanley A. August Professor of Law,” said Araiza. “I am deeply appreciative that my colleagues saw fit to recognize my work in this way, and I hope the work I produce in the future will validate their regard.”

Araiza clerked for Hon. William Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then for Justice David Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court, before practicing with two large law firms in Los Angeles. Araiza served as the vice dean of the Law School from 2015 to 2017, and prior to that, as associate dean for faculty and the Rev. Richard A. Vachon, S.J. Fellow and Professor of Law at Loyola Law School Los Angeles.

Professor Dana Brakman Reiser Named Centennial Professor of Law

Dana Brakman Reiser headshot
Brooklyn Law School has named Dana Brakman Reiser Centennial Professor of Law. Brakman Reiser is a widely recognized authority on law and finance for both philanthropic organizations and businesses that pursue a social mission. She is the coauthor (with Professor Steven Dean) of Social Enterprise Law: Trust, Public Benefit, and Capital Markets (Oxford University Press, 2017) and a forthcoming book, For-Profit Philanthropy (Oxford University Press, 2022).

“I am thrilled to accept my appointment and profoundly appreciate this recognition of my scholarly impact,” said Brakman Reiser. “It has been a privilege to develop my academic career within the rigorous and inspiring Brooklyn Law School community, surrounded by supportive colleagues and administrators and passionate students and alumni.”

Brakman Reiser is a member of the American Law Institute and was an associate reporter for its project on the principles of the law of nonprofit organizations. She is also a member and past chair of the section on nonprofit and philanthropy law of the American Association of Law Schools.

Brakman Reiser served as vice dean of the Law School from 2013 to 2015. She was previously a legal fellow in the Office of the General Counsel of Partners HealthCare System and served as a law clerk to Hon. Bruce Selya of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

To learn more about establishing an endowed chair, please call Sean P. Moriarty, Chief Advancement Officer, at 718-780-7505
Professors Jocelyn Simonson and K. Sabeel Rahman Explore Policing and Economic Reform
K. Sabeel Rahman headshot
Jocelyn Simonson headshot
K. Sabeel Rahman headshot
Amid ongoing nationwide protests of police-involved killings of African Americans and recent calls to reform policing, a forthcoming article by Professors Jocelyn Simonson and K. Sabeel Rahman has garnered attention.

In “The Institutional Design of Community Control,” 108 California Law Review__ (forthcoming 2020), Simonson and Rahman look at current proposals for community control of the police and of economic development, analyzing how local government might shift power and attempt to redress inequality. The authors encourage scholars “to pay closer attention to the specific levers of power over which historically disempowered groups seek control, asking not just whether shifting power downward makes sense, but also how those shifts can (or cannot) be institutionalized.”

The article was referenced in an essay in Slate that suggested Congress could use its power to transform policing and promote racial justice by, for instance, withholding federal funding from localities that do not implement measures such as the creation of civilian commissions transferring “power from the police to the communities most affected by mass incarceration,” as outlined by Simonson and Rahman.

Professor Catherine Kim Examines Politicization of Immigration Bench

Catherine Kim headshot

Has the Executive Branch unduly influenced decisions by immigration judges? Professor Catherine Kim, in her article “Presidential Ideology and Immigrant Detention,” 69 Duke Law Journal 1855 (2020), coauthored with Amy Semet, examined 630,000 individual custody decisions by immigration judges from 2001 through June 2019 to explore this question.

A noncitizen charged with deportability may be detained pending the outcome of removal proceedings, often for months or even years. In many instances, individuals are eligible to be released on bond at the discretion of immigration judges. The authors found that noncitizens fared worse in bond proceedings during the current administration than they did during the prior two, even those conducted by appointees who had been relatively favorable toward noncitizens during prior eras. These findings suggest that political actors in the executive branch may be influencing immigrant bond outcomes not only through their power to appoint, but also through their power to supervise.

“Our findings underscore the importance of insulating immigration judges from control by politically motivated superiors,” said Kim. “These judges, like all other judges, should be deciding cases on the merits of individual facts presented at hearing, not on the basis of a political calculus dictated by the White House. Due process requires nothing less.”

The following are selected highlights of recent faculty scholarship.
To learn more, visit →
Julian Arato

Parsing and Managing Inconsistency in Investor-State Dispute Settlement (with Chester W. Brown and Federico Ortino), 21 Journal of World Investment and Trade __ (2020)

WITH REGARD TO inconsistency in legal interpretation in investor-state disputes, a key international trade issue, Arato makes a distinction between the types of norms with which a degree of inconsistency is manageable and tolerable, and those with which inconsistency affects the structural “rules of the game” and is most destructive.
Miriam H. Baer

Law Enforcement’s Lochner, 105 Minnesota Law Review __ (forthcoming 2021)

BAER FORECASTS that the government-friendly “first-party” rules that enable the government to demand information from business entities will increasingly come under attack as a result of the Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment privacy decisions and its emerging stance on corporate personhood. Although she rejects the claim that the demise of these rules would trigger a collapse in regulatory and corporate law enforcement, she believes their loss could exacerbate current problems in regulatory and white-collar enforcement.

Anita Bernstein

(Almost) No Bad Drugs: Near-Total Products Liability Immunity for Pharmaceuticals Explained, 77 Washington & Lee Law Review 3 (2020)

Although almost every major pharmaceutical manufacturer has shelled out millions in settlements for misconduct related to the marketing of prescription drugs, they enjoy near immunity from liability—in particular products liability—when their products are found to be defective. Bernstein examines the three categories of product defect liability and how seldom judges apply them in pharmaceutical cases.

Hamilton and the Law cover
Professor Robin Effron and Vice Dean Christina Mulligan Examine Hamilton through a Legal Lens
IN A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS in Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues through the Hit Musical (Lisa A. Tucker, ed.; Cornell University Press, 2020), legal scholars, including Professor Robin Effron and Vice Dean Christina Mulligan, discuss the show, based on the life of attorney and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, from a legal point of view.

In “Finding Constitutional Redemption through Hamilton,” Mulligan examines the meaning and controversy over casting actors of color as historical figures who were white. “We construct who America is,” she writes. “Hamilton participates in that construction by ‘reallocating the ownership of the republic’ to people who have historically and unjustly been alienated from it.”

In “Taking Law School Musicals Seriously: A Little Love Letter to Legal Musicals and the Lawyers Who Love Them,” Effron, who enjoyed a previous career as a singer and musician, reflects on the importance of the “law revue,” a student-produced annual musical parody of law school and the law, to her ability to tie her two worlds together. “It was the repetition and evolution of law in the books and law on the stage that kept me afloat and propelled me toward my career in which I find utter joy and satisfaction,” she writes.


Professor Julian Arato, codirector of the Dennis J. Block Center for International Business Law, was awarded the prestigious Francis Deák Prize by the American Society of International Law for his article “The Private Law Critique of International Investment Law,” 113 American Journal of International Law 1 (2019). The prize is awarded annually for the best scholarly article by a younger author published in the American Journal of International Law.

An article authored by Professor Miriam Baer, “Pricing the Fourth Amendment,” 58 William & Mary Law Review 1103 (2017), was cited by Hon. Guido Calabresi in his concurrence in United States v. Weaver, 975 F.3d 94 (2d Cir. 2020), which reversed a lower court’s holding that a frisk for weapons was appropriate under the Fourth Amendment. In his concurring opinion, Judge Calabresi criticized the exclusionary rule and noted that several scholars had advocated alternative mechanisms to punish violations of Fourth Amendment rights. Baer’s article, which hypothesizes a tax-driven approach to searches and seizures, was among the three he cited.

Professor Susan Hazeldean’s paper, “Privacy as Pretext,” 104 Cornell Law Review 1719 (2019), was selected as a winner of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools’ call for papers for the 2020 conference. The awards ceremony, typically held during a luncheon at the annual meeting, was held virtually this year.

Professor Edward Janger joined with other bankruptcy scholars on the Small Business Committee of the Bankruptcy & COVID-19 Working Group, formed to study financial distress and COVID-19 and make policy recommendations. The committee submitted a letter to congressional leaders proposing changes to the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 that would help small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Professor Minna Kotkin was named an academic fellow for the Pound Civil Justice Institute following her participation as a panelist for the Institute’s 2020 Judges Forum. The Pound Civil Justice Institute is a national legal think tank created by pioneering members of the trial bar and dedicated to ensuring access to justice for ordinary citizens.

Professor Emeritus Norman S. Poser’s book The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick (Routledge, 2018), was a finalist for the Society for Theatre Research Theatre Book Prize 2020, awarded annually to the best new book on any aspect of British or British-related theater history and practice.

Professor Janet Sinder, director of the Law School’s library, was awarded the top prize in the AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers in the open category by the American Association of Law Libraries for her paper “Correcting the Record: Post-Publication Corrections and the Integrity of Legal Scholarship,” 112 Law Library Journal __ (forthcoming 2020). This is the second time Sinder has received the award, having previously been recognized in 1997.

ON AUGUST 21, 2020, the Brooklyn Law School faculty adopted an anti-bias resolution, issuing a statement acknowledging their responsibility to identify, challenge, and condemn structural inequity and identifying several immediate action items.

“As members of the Brooklyn Law School faculty, we are compelled to act,” the resolution stated in part.

Valerie Fitch ’88 Named President of the Alumni Association
Valerie Fitch headshot
Valerie Fitch ’88
“When I find something I like, I tend to stick with it,” said Valerie Fitch ’88, senior director of talent development at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and president of the Law School’s Alumni Association. The Law School is the beneficiary of that commitment, as the Alumni Board moves forward under the guidance of an experienced chair presiding over important structural changes to advance the organization and capitalize on the talent and energy of the Law School’s global alumni community.

“We have so many alumni who are nearby, as well as many who are around the world,” said Fitch, whose husband Edward Flanders ’89 and stepson Dylan Flanders ’21 are also part of the Law School community. “We want to bring those people back in and remind them how important the Law School has been to them.”

Fitch had also previously served as president from 2015 to 2017. In her second term, which started last year, she wanted to build on the work of her successor, Michael Grohman ’83, and continue to revamp the organization. She added three new committees: Professional Development and Mentoring, Alumni Activities, and Philanthropy, giving alumni more ways to become engaged at a higher level.

Meet the Alumni Association Executive Committee
  • Alumni Board President
Valerie Fitch ’88, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
  • President-Elect
Deborah Riegel ’93, Rosenberg & Estis
  • Chair, Professional Development and Mentoring
Dona Fraser ’01, BBB National Programs
  • Chair, Alumni Activities
Sasha Linney ’11, GoldenTree Asset Management
  • Chair, Philanthropy
Timothy Oberweger ’05, Stewart Title Guaranty Company
  • Member-at-Larg
Evan Azriliant ’92, S & E Azriliant
  • Member-at-Larg
Neil Goldstein ’67, Robinson Brog Leinwand Greene Genovese & Gluck
Alumni Support Scholarships to Empower the Next Generation
In 2020, six new scholarships were created by generous alumni to help attract high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds to the Law School. These scholarships help bolster the efforts of the Professor Arthur Pinto and Stephen Bohlen Diversity Initiative to support the Law School’s core commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of its community and aid in transforming the legal profession. Highlighted below are four of these new scholarships:
Class of 2005
When his class’s 15-year reunion was interrupted by the pandemic, Tim Oberweger ’05, head of the Alumni Association’s Philanthropy Committee, along with Peter Altman ’05 and Deborah Koplovitz ’05, convened a group of classmates to think of ways to use their anniversary year to give back to the Law School community. After a summer spent reconnecting and discussing, the class had collected almost $20,000 to fund a scholarship that will support students of color, creating an impact that will far outlast their reunion year.
Mark Fung ’94
Recently, Fung created the John and Susan Fung Memorial Scholarship. Named in memory of his parents, the scholarship is awarded for three years to assist the Law School in attracting highly qualified students from underrepresented backgrounds. Fung, in addition to maintaining his own practice focusing on international arbitration, international business practice, and corporate law, is a noted leader in U.S.–China relations, holding posts at the Harvard University Asia Center, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Committee on U.S.–China Relations.
Students discussing student support funds
Student Support Fund
In the spring of 2020, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and friends of the Law School came together to support students facing unexpected financial hardships during this time of tremendous challenges. Their donations to the Student Support Fund were immediately disbursed to more than 100 students who had been adversely affected by the pandemic, including those who had lost their part-time jobs, whose family financial situation was affected, or who needed help to ensure that their studies were not affected by the pandemic.
Give to the Student Support Fund by making a gift TODAY at
Student Support Fund
Students discussing student support funds
In the spring of 2020, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and friends of the Law School came together to support students facing unexpected financial hardships during this time of tremendous challenges. Their donations to the Student Support Fund were immediately disbursed to more than 100 students who had been adversely affected by the pandemic, including those who had lost their part-time jobs, whose family financial situation was affected, or who needed help to ensure that their studies were not affected by the pandemic.
Give to the Student Support Fund by making a gift TODAY at
Real Estate Alumni Offer Career Advice to Recent Grads
Tim Oberweger headshot
Tim Oberweger ’05 served as the roundtable moderator

At the Real Estate Roundtable Discussion “Starting or Reinvigorating a Real Estate Legal Career in 2020 and Beyond,” more than 60 current students and recent graduates learned how to break into the industry from a distinguished panel of successful alumni.

The virtual event featured Tim Oberweger ’05, vice president at Stewart Title Company and member of the Brooklyn Law School Alumni Board, who served as moderator; Lisa Bova-Hiatt ’94, executive vice president for legal affairs and general counsel at the New York City Housing Authority; Adjunct Professor Richard J. Sobelsohn ’98, vice president, legal, at Cohen Brothers Realty; Craig L. Price ’99, partner at Belkin, Burden, Goldman; Robert Alleman ’10, shareholder at Greenberg Traurig; Niki Tsismenakis ’11, partner at Goldstein Hall; and Karl Dowden ’13, of KarlDowdenLaw.

Dean Cahill Greets Alumni Across the Country

In his first year on the job, Dean Cahill traveled to introduce himself to the Law School’s widespread alumni community, making stops in Arizona, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

Cahill kicked off 2020 in Washington, D.C., at the Association of American Law Schools’ annual meeting in January. At an accompanying alumni event, faculty members reconnected with conference attendees and local alumni.

In February, Cahill attended an event in Phoenix at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa, where more than 20 alumni were in attendance, including Lawrence Sucharow ’75, a member of the Board of Trustees.

Later that month, Cahill traveled to Florida to attend an alumni event at the Kimpton EPIC in Miami, home to an increasingly active chapter of the Alumni Association. Local alumni leaders, including Roger Slade ’88, Jason Goldberg ’11, and Gina Shlaferman ’12, look forward to continuing the momentum generated by the event. He then met with alumni at an event in Boca Raton at the Polo Club, hosted by Board of Trustees member emerita Florence Subin ’75.

More in-person alumni events across the country will be scheduled once large gatherings are safe for attendees.


Jeffrey Forchelli has been named to Wagner College’s Board of Trustees. Forchelli is a member of the Brooklyn Law School Board of Trustees and chairman and comanaging partner of Forchelli Deegan & Terrana. The Jeffrey D. Forchelli Conference Center in Feil Hall is named in honor of his family.

Michael Rikon was selected for the Top Attorney of the Decade Award for 2020 by the International Association of Top Professionals. Rikon is a partner at Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton and focuses his practice on condemnation and eminent domain cases.


Marshall D. Feiring joined Dentons as partner in its capital markets group. He was previously at Sidley Austin.

Eileen T. Nugent joined Morrow Sodali’s newly formed strategic advisory board. She is currently of counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in its mergers and acquisitions group. She is also a member of the Brooklyn Law School Board of Trustees.

In Memoriam
Senior District Court Judge Hon. Arthur D. Spatt ’49
Hon. Arthur D. Spatt ’49
Hon. Arthur Spatt, Senior District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York, died June 12, 2020, at age 94, leaving a lasting mark on the legal community.

Spatt was known for his extraordinary work ethic, presiding in his chambers six days a week even after gaining senior status at the court in 2004. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Spatt maintained a full case load while working from his home in Commack, N.Y.

“Beyond having a first-rate legal mind, Judge Spatt may have been the most tireless and diligent worker Brooklyn Law School has ever produced,” said Dean Cahill. “Not a single day of his long and admirable life was spent idly or in vain. He fully embodied the professionalism we hope to instill in all of our graduates.”

By Wilfred Codrington III, Assistant Professor of Law
How American Democracy Survives
This year was always going to be a fascinating one for those interested in election law and U.S. democracy. But now, as the country grapples with the political trifecta of a raging pandemic, a reeling economy, and a racial awakening, it’s clear that this will be an election year for the books.

These problems and others have left many wondering whether American democracy can survive 2020. Although the analysis is complex, the short answer, I believe, is yes. Daunting as they are, the challenges that the country now faces pale in comparison to the fraud, discrimination, and sheer violence that have plagued it historically.

This is not to downplay the significance of the immediate threats posed, but to encourage the many officials committed to safeguarding elections to consider what might be done to mitigate them. Clarity can be hard to come by in the eye of the storm, but reforms in at least three critical areas seem plainly necessary.

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faculty and alumni photos